The other night my stomach was sickened and my view on humanity disgusted after what I saw on the local news. A mother in our area had tried to kill her own eleven-year-old daughter. Mental illness or not, I lost my way for several hours consumed by thoughts on how someone could do this to their own child.

Eleven years old. 

She should have been home making jewelry, roller-skating, riding her bike, climbing a tree or maybe even still playing with Barbies–all the things eleven-year-old girls like to do. But she couldn’t.

Instead, this poor, sweet girl was fighting for her life as her mother choked and beat her.

It’s not something a human brain can rationalize.

I remember bringing my first child, my baby daughter home. I felt overwhelmed that I was responsible for another human being but at the same time I felt pride and love. I knew that I would never hurt my child and I would never let anyone hurt her. I would defend and give my life for her, always.

How does someone get from this point of loving their child and then attempting to kill them? It sickens me. It makes me feel angry, lost, and helpless– but then I realize that we can make a difference.

Hold your children. Hug them. Tell them something they’re good at. Hold them tightly and look them in the eyes and tell them how important they are.

Forgive your children. The next time they explode that chocolate ice cream all over your car, slightly lower your raised voice. Let this one thing that wells tears in their eyes go.

Love your children. Think about all the children who aren’t loved and channel it into your children. We are not perfect parents. There will always be times we yell and wish we could take back our own choices. But your child will remember when you do let those little things go.

Clean up the spilled orange juice and consider it an accident. Let your nine-year-old daughter have an attitude once and talk to her reasonably about it.

Hug your children, be grateful for them even when it seems like it’s constant work. Someday you will miss those little socks and shoes.

Cherish your children, be grateful for them today because they will remember. Hug them because the world has enough sadness. Give them your undivided attention for 60 seconds when they want to tell you a story about their day. Watch their eyes light up as you listen. Watch their little faces absorb your attention.

Hold your children so when they grow up they can pass on that love to their children. Hold them and tell them you’re glad they were born.

Hold them so when they go to sleep at night, they don’t worry.

Hold them so this horrible thing that happened to this eleven-year-old girl stops us for a second to make us appreciate, love and respect what’s right in front of our face.

Our children are worth it.

Erica Sutherland

E. Sutherland resides in California with her husband and two children. Along with working full-time and being a mom (which is her favorite job!) she also writes in her spare time. Every essay is inspired by her children.